Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hump Day Prayer . . . Lent

Eternal God,
your kingdom has broken into our troubled world
through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son.
Help us to hear your Word and obey it,
that we may become instruments of your saving love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
Book of Common Worship

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Amazing Grace

I went to see the new movie this weekend called “Amazing Grace.” I would highly recommend it to everyone. The movie tells the story of William Wilberforce, an Englishman, who fought with the authorities for all of his adult life, trying to halt the slave trade in Britain. He was a remarkable man and his story is one that will both inspire and challenge those who go to see it. At the end of the movie, people applauded.

Wilberforce faced many years of derision from his own peers and he was treated as a religious fanatic who was meddling with the political system. He experienced a lot of hostility and humiliation, but he endured it because he knew that slavery was wrong and that his generation would be held accountable to God for this monstrous act of degradation against African people.

Just before he died, after decades of campaigning, Wilberforce won his battle. The slave trade was ended in Britain and slaves were emancipated throughout the British Empire, which at that time covered most of the globe. His success spurred on the hopes of another group of people across the Atlantic called Abolitionists, who would fight their own battles which ultimately led to Civil War in the United States.

Every generation has their own battles to fight against those things that lead us away from God. In Wilberforce’s time, it was the slave trade. A generation later, it was about the exploitation of children. A hundred years later, it was the Civil Rights movement.

In our generation, the biggest battle for the community of faith is how to remain effective and relevant, challenging and prophetic without being sucked in by our post-modern culture. Sadly, we spend more time watching our favorite shows than worshipping God. We spend more money on pampering ourselves than we do supporting God’s work. And we waste more of our lives, energy, and strength on things that will eventually decay and die than we do on the eternal blessings of God.

We are slaves to our own success and we don’t want to be liberated. Perhaps God’s judgment upon our generation is that we will get what we want now and pay for it later – the trouble is this: will that ‘later’ be too late to rescue our souls?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, save us from ourselves. Open our eyes to our spiritual blindness and make us see how fruitless our faith has become. Confront our choices and challenge our ways, so that our souls may still be won for Your kingdom. Keep us from chaining ourselves to the slavery of sophistication and success, ambition and greed. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John writes the Heaven's Highway daily devotional blog; the weekly religious news blog Stushie's Stuff, and the Sunday Worship prayer website "Aaron's Beard."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hump Day Prayer . . . Ash Wednesday

God says: My people complain to me:

We have fasted to please you, Lord,
but you have not noticed.
We have bowed low to the ground in prayer,
but you have not troubled to even look.

Tell my people this:

You fast to impress yourselves, not me,
you fast yet still oppress your employees.
You fast religiously yet remain bullies at heart,
you are verbally violent or even use your fists.
This fasting of yours is just an act,
it will never impress me.

Do you really think I care
if you make a big show of humility?
If you kow-tow to the ground
and spread sackcloth and ashes?
Do you dare call that a real fast,
and think I will find it acceptable?

Now listen to me:

This is the kind of fasting I choose:
cut the bonds of oppression,
undo the yoke of injustice,
set the oppressed free,
and break every yoke into pieces.
Share you bread with the hungry
open your doors to the homeless.
Give your coat to those who shiver,
and don’t spurn your poorer relatives.

Do this and light shall begin to dawn,
and very quickly healing shall be yours,
my righteousness shall go ahead of you,
and my glory shall follow your every step.
Then you will call out for help, and I will answer,
I will say to you, “Here I am, my child.”
(B.D. Prewer 2006)

Monday Question of the Week . . . Lent

To-give-up or not-to-give-up that is the question. How are you going to be preparing yourself/congregation for the resurrection?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Coming Soon

Revelation 22:7 "Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.

"There’s a lot of disruption occurring in the Presbyterian Church, which is dividing our ability to witness effectively in the world. Different pastors and elders hold diverse views about what’s right and wrong for the church, and the people in the pews are being led like sheep to the slaughter on the altars of adversity and discontent. Congregations are leaving the denomination across the country, which is weakening our influence throughout many communities.

Instead of being washed in the blood of Jesus, we’re hemorrhaging. Instead of bringing the good news of the Gospel to the world, we’ve actually become bad news.

I worry about what’s happening. I try to understand why people want to polarize their faith. Is it because we hate one another so much that we have no room for love? Is it because we’ve too much pride that we have forgotten to be humble? Are we so focused on currently making things right for ourselves that we’ve jettisoned the future of the Church? Are we so sure that we’re on the Lord’s side and not servants of Lucifer?

Christ is coming soon. If I live till I’m eighty, then for me He’s coming in the next thirty years. Time is running out for all of us, and He will judge us according to what we have done. Can we honestly say that He is more interested in the divisions we’ve created, or in the people we’ve attracted to Christ? Will Jesus commend us more for doctrinal purity or compassionate conversions?

In the end, Presbyterianism is just another thin branch of the whole Christian Church. Even if it breaks, the tree will survive.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are Your Church and we are Your people. None of us are perfect; not one of us is pure. Grant us wisdom and discernment, compassion and love. Keep us from dividing the body and diminishing our witness. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John writes the Heaven's Highway daily devotional blog; the weekly religious news blog Stushie's Stuff, and the Worship prayer website "Aaaron's beard."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Review . . . Labyrinth Finder

Ok, so this segment has been a little heavy on web resources lately, but life has been really busy. So, here is another one. The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator .

I walked a labyrinth for the first time a couple of years ago and became a believer almost instantly. It seems silly, contrived, fake, all kinds of things; but I don't believe I have ever walked out of a labyrinth without some kind of answer to the prayer I took in.

The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator does exactly what its name implies. You can search for a labyrinth by organization, city, state or zip code. I did a search on my State and was surprised at the number of private labyrinths around that have registered with this site. Some times there will be a picture of the labyrinth. There is always a description of the size and style of labyrinth and information regarding public access, hours and a contact person.

Check out the labyrinths around you and give one a try.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hump Day Prayer . . . Valentine's Day

Praise to the One whose love stirs the ancient embers
sparks the breath of prayer

Praise to the One whose love entices the wandering
becons the confused

Praise to the One whose love grows wings on the weary
dreams hope in the discouraged

Praise to the One whose love soothes with the ointment of mercy
transforms with the touch of compassion

Praise to the One whose love threads the energy of friendship
stitches the strength of fidelity

Praise to the One whose love tickles the soul with laughter
urges the heart toward joy

Praise to the one whose love embraces the untamed
dances with the passionate

All praise to this Gracious One
All gratitude to this Beloved
All love to this Mentor of Friendship
All devotion to this Shaper of Hearts.

Out of the Ordinary Joyce Rupp

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Three summers ago, I took a group of church people to tour Scotland. It was a wonderful experience and I personally delighted in showing everyone the wonders and beauty of the auld country.

In the middle of the tour, we visited a small town, right in the heart of Scotland, called Dunkeld. The scenery was breathtaking and all the tourists loved the buildings, bridges and beautiful gardens in and around the town. We stayed there for two days, but just before we left the town, I took the group to a secret spot behind the Birnham hotel, where we were staying.

We walked for about 500 yards and came to the riverside. There, next to the water banks, stood four ancient oak trees, about 900 years old. They were massive and the girth of one of the trunks took half of our party to ring. It was wonderful to experience one of Scotland's hidden treasures.

For nine hundred years, those trees had been planted by the water. They were mentioned in Shakespeare's Scottish play "MacBeth" in the lines "when Birnham wood comes to Dunisane hill." They had survived the most turbulent years of Scottish history, and they still thrive and bear fruit every year.

Today's verse tells us about the prosperity and strength of those who rely upon the Lord. It's a lesson for all of us to experience, for no matter what we go through - pain, sorrow, or trouble - if we remain true to the Lord, He will enable us to endure, overcome, and prosper.

Prayer: Lord God, Your strength carries me throughout life and Your will sustains me. Enable me to remain focused upon Your ways, so that I may spiritually thrive and faithfully prosper in Your kingdom on earth. Refresh my soul with the Living Water of Jesus Christ and strengthen my soul through the riches of His grace. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

John is the writer of the Heaven's Highway, Stushie's Stuff, and Aaron's Beard blogs that you can link to from the blog list on this page.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Fishers of Men

Luke 5: 8 - 10a When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. (NIV)

Acts 4:18-20 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (NIV)

I worked amongst fishermen on the West coast of Scotland for nine years, and they were amongst the best years of ministry that I have ever experienced. On Fridays, when the boats came in, I headed down to the wharf and watched them land their catch. These rugged men had spent the better part of a week out at sea, so coming home was a big deal, especially in times of harsh seas and rough weather. I always admired and envied them at the same time. They were men of action. These were courageous people.

I guess that's part of the reason Jesus chose fishermen to be His followers. They were not fair-weather supporters. They were ready for a rough journey and could be relied upon. Years later, when it came to being interrogated by the Sanhedrin and told to be silent about Jesus, Peter and John had no alternative. They had to preach the Gospel. They had to face their foes. They had to get out there, in the rough seas of prejudiced humanity, and catch the souls of sinful men.

Faith isn't easy and telling others about who we believe in, whom we serve, and why we are Christians is sometimes a hard battle. But if we have even an ounce of what faith Peter and John had, we will see lives changed, people healed of the past, and souls reconnected to God through the strength, hope, and love we express.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to be led by Your Holy Spirit today. Keep us in contact with other people - families and friends - and enable us to reach out to them with the Gospel in a loving, yet determined way. In Your Sacred Name, we pray.

Stushie is the writer of the Heaven’s Highway, Stushie’s Stuff, and Aaron’s Beard blogs, which you can link to from this page.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Review. . . .Bible Content Exams

I was going to do something completely different, but what the heck. Today was the day for Bible Content exams -- or at least that was what our Presbytery newsletter said when it asked for prayers for our seminary students.

So, I thought I would post a link to a page designed to help students study for that particular exam. Of course, anyone can use it who just wants to see whether they know more than they have forgotten.